Human rights in an age of distant witnesses
Remixed lives, reincarnated images and live- streamed co- presence
in Image operations
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This chapter explores the practical challenges and opportunities of the current moment in visual activism. Via a series of situated observations from Syria, Burma, the US and elsewhere, it focuses particularly on the ways in which videos, testimonies and imagery of human rights violations are shared from sites of crisis, remixed, and re-purposed by both ‘distant witnesses’ and NGOs. The chapter considers how these image operations reflect the increasingly porous, expanding boundaries of participation in the field of human rights and their impact on issues of representation, unexpected circulation, and other ethical considerations in human rights practice. It also explores how the concept of the live news broadcast is being up-ended and up-dated through the practice of livestreaming from situations in Egypt, Burma, Africa, and Brazil. Within this context the author discusses the possibilities of live and immersive witnessing for human rights, and the conceptual, ethical and practical possibilities of image and experience-based activism at the intersection of trends in live and immersive video, ‘co-presence’ technologies for shared experience at a distance, task-routing technologies and distributed movement technologies.

Image operations

Visual media and political conflict

Editors: Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk


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